Clearwire Gets a New Backhaul Buddy

Clearwire LLC (Nasdaq: CLWR) has revealed that it uses wireless backhaul gear from millimeter-wave specialist E-Band Communications Corp. for its bandwidth-hungry WiMax service in the US, which will be a boost for the relatively new wireless radio technology. (See Clearwire Picks E-Band for Backhaul.)

The presence of a newcomer in Clearwire's network could also keep the operator's other microwave backhaul suppliers, DragonWave Inc. (AIM/Toronto: DWI; Nasdaq: DRWI) and Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT), on their toes. (See Rumor: NSN Wants a Piece of Motorola and Clearwire's Backhaul Bet.)

The news follows Light Reading Mobile's report that Clearwire is expected to cut its capital expenditure spending in the second half of this year, and that Dragonwave's Clearwire sales are expected to drop 84 percent in the "August quarter," according to Soleil Securities Group Inc. analyst Michael Genovese. (See Clearwire Cutting Capex in 2H10?)

For the millimeter-wave startup, E-Band, Clearwire is its first major publicly announced customer. A company spokesman says that Clearwire has been using its equipment for more than a year. (See CTIA 2010: Backhaul's Big in Vegas, CTIA 2010: Clearwire, Sprint Push 4G Advantage, and E-Band, Aviat Ink OEM Deal.)

E-Band says that with its Gigabit-Ethernet wireless point-to-point system, Clearwire can build wireless backhaul rings that carry multiple gigabits of traffic. Clearwire has initially deployed the E-Band radios, which operate in the 70GHz to 80GHz frequency range, in Chicago and Philadelphia. (See Clearwire Coverage Tops 50 Million People.)

The attraction of this wireless technology is that it promises to meet the ever-increasing demand for more backhaul capacity by delivering high-capacity links over short distances (typically no more than up to three kilometers). Also, higher frequencies like the 70GHz to 80GHz range is usually lower-cost spectrum, which can be licensed or unlicensed.

The downside, according to a Heavy Reading Mobile Networks Insider report, is that the more-than-1-Gbit/s capacity can only be delivered over short distances and that the throughput can be affected by rainfall. (See The New Wave of Mobile Backhaul.)

Clearwire's interest in millimeter-wave technology shouldn't come as a surprise to Light Reading Mobile readers, however. At our Backhaul Strategies for Mobile Operators conference in October 2008, Clearwire CTO John Saw issued a microwave backhaul manifesto and one of his edicts was that equipment vendors needed to invest more in the development of millimeter-wave technology. (See Clearwire Backhaul Manifesto.)

— Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Light Reading Mobile

joset01 12/5/2012 | 4:30:02 PM
re: Clearwire Gets a New Backhaul Buddy

Still in the rumor realm so far, Clearwire is reporting Q2 results on August 4, should be interesting.

baznyankee 12/5/2012 | 4:30:02 PM
re: Clearwire Gets a New Backhaul Buddy

If I remember it, that bit about Clearwire cutting it's capex 2H10, it was only a rumor. 

Has it been confirmed, now? 

Michelle Donegan 12/5/2012 | 4:30:01 PM
re: Clearwire Gets a New Backhaul Buddy

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Clearwire just got back to me on this. Here's what their CFO said about capex in 2010 on the Q1 earnings call in early May:

"Capital expenditures were $690 million for the first quarter with net cash spending of $842 million. This was in line with our internal plans. We continue to expect to spend approximately $2.8 billion to $3.2 billion in total cash during the year. It's important to note that the capital expenditure portion of our total spending plan is significantly more first half loaded during the year, and we expect it to decline as we move into the second half of the year."


Next time we'll get any kind of an update will be August 4 with Q2 results.


theCLEARblog 12/5/2012 | 4:29:42 PM
re: Clearwire Gets a New Backhaul Buddy

Yes, Clearwire will post the financial release at 4 PM EST, with a webcast and conference call at 4:30. You can find out how to access it at Clearwire's website.



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